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Over the last three days, the blogs of SB Nation executed a network-wide 2011 NBA Mock Draft, with each blog choosing their prospect at their team's allotted slot based on the who was left on the board. There were a number of surprises -- including our Wolves blog Canis Hoopus choosing Turkish center Enes Kanter before rumors suggested that was a legit possibility -- and some absurdly thorough explanations. I'd advise you to read through the whole mock to get a sense of why teams' most dedicated fans love some of these prospects.
For quick reference, here are the full results:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers / Fear The Sword: Kyrie Irving
2. Minnesota Timberwolves / Canis Hoopus: Enes Kanter
3. Utah Jazz / SLC Dunk: Derrick Williams
4. Cleveland Cavaliers / Fear The Sword: Jonas Valanciunas
5. Toronto Raptors / Raptors HQ: Brandon Knight
6. Washington Wizards / Bullets Forever: Bismack Biyombo
7. Sacramento Kings / Sactown Royalty: Kawhi Leonard
8. Detroit Pistons / Detroit Bad Boys: Kemba Walker
9. Charlotte Bobcats / Rufus On Fire: Jordan Hamilton
10. Milwaukee Bucks / Brew Hoop: Alec Burks
11. Golden State Warriors / Golden State Of Mind: Chris Singleton
12. Utah Jazz / SLC Dunk: Jimmer Fredette
13. Phoenix Suns / Bright Side Of The Suns: Marcus Morris
14. Houston Rockets / The Dream Shake: Jan Vesely
15. Indiana Pacers / Indy Cornrows: Marshon Brooks
16. Philadelphia 76ers / Liberty Ballers: Tristan Thompson
17. New York Knicks / Posting And Toasting: Kenneth Faried
18. Washington Wizards / Bullets Forever: Klay Thompson
19. Charlotte Bobcats / Rufus On Fire: Nikola Vucevic
20. Minnesota Timberwolves / Canis Hoopus: Tobias Harris
21. Portland Trail Blazers / Blazer's Edge: Donatas Motiejunas
22. Denver Nuggets / Denver Stiffs: Markieff Morris
23. Houston Rockets / The Dream Shake: Darius Morris
24. Oklahoma City Thunder / Welcome To Loud City: Nikola Mirotic
25. Boston Celtics / CelticsBlog: Jeremy Tyler
26. Dallas Mavericks / Mavs Moneyball: Nolan Smith
27. New Jersey Nets / NetsDaily: Jimmy Butler
28. Chicago Bulls / Blog A Bull: Charles Jenkins
29. San Antonio Spurs / Pounding The Rock: Kyle Singler
30. Chicago Bulls / Blog A Bull: Jon Leuer
With the No. 30 and final pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the Chicago Bulls, represented again by Blog A Bull, select Jon Leuer from Wisconsin. Kevin Ferrigan, better known at Blog A Bull as fundamentallysound, explains the pick.
Jon Leuer has been one of the most productive big men in the entire country for two years running. As a junior, he put up a 30.2 PER and as a senior, he put up another very solid season with an 28.7 PER. He also shoots the three very well, 39 percent and 37 percent in his last two seasons on three and six attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted, respectively. His ability to increase the volume of his three point shooting without suffering much of a drop off in percentages suggests that he is a top level shooter. Additionally, Leuer is 6'10" without shoes and 6'11.5" with shoes making him quite able to shoot over just about any defender from that distance. He's got a strong upper body (17 bench press reps) and very good leaping ability for a 7-footer (36-inch vertical).
Leuer could stand to gain some strength in his lower body to help in his post defense, but he's an interested, active help defender which would serve him well in Tom Thibodeau's rotating, attacking defensive scheme. Additionally, it'd be nice if his rebounding were a little bit better, as that tends to translate, but given how often Leuer played offensively on the perimeter, it's hard to say that it's totally surprising. Fortunately, the Bulls are flush with a very strong rebounding frontcourt, so they should be able to mask whatever deficiency Leuer might have there.
Leuer is an intriguing pick-up at this stage in the draft because, much like Joakim Noah, he's a 7-footer who played in high school as a point guard and still displays some of those ball-handling skills. Given the proclivity of teams to trap Derrick Rose and the Bulls' need to have multiple trap breakers who can put the ball on the floor when Derrick is doubled, picking up another one of those guys would really help. Leuer is doubly well-served for this role, and might be even better than Noah at catching the ball at the foul-line / high-post area to break the trap, because he is such a good shooter. When Joakim breaks the trap he is almost always forced to put the ball on the floor to try and break the defense down, which can, at times, be predictable. Leuer would be a threat to either shoot or to put the ball on the floor and attack, which would obviously be better. Leuer's shooting skills would also really open things up for Derrick Rose on the pick and pop, as his best shooting option on that play this past year, with Carlos Boozer's jump shot betraying him a little this year and Taj Gibson's jumper always being a little iffy, was often 38 year old Kurt Thomas. Thomas was able to be incredibly effective simply because he was always wide open on the pick and pop. Teams were forced to double Derrick and live with the result when Thomas got it. He usually made them pay. Leuer should be able to do that much more frequently and often from the three point line, which would really help as the Bulls need more 3 point shooting wherever they can get it.
Finally, it certainly doesn't hurt that our man John Hollinger's Draft Rater had Jon Leuer as a sleeper in the draft.
Also, Leuer has a YouTube highlight video set to 50 Cent's P.I.M.P., which I find hilarious.
See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
With the Spurs' recent first-round playoff faceplant still fresh in everyone's mind, the prevailing thought in just about every corner of the Spurs webiverse is very simple: "size, size, size". The Memphis Grizllies' frontcourt exposed the silver and black's most visually apparent weakness, and it's more apparent than ever that the team needs size in the frontcourt, particularly with the retirement of Antonio McDyess. However, the team is not going to find an short-term solution to their big man situation at the 29th pick in a fairly weak draft. Another thing the team will eventually need is a backup point guard behind Tony Parker, as George Hill and Gary Neal are decidedly NOT point guards. However, as long as Manu Ginolbili is healthy, the Spurs can get away with using those undersized shooting guards as "point guard", while Ginobili actually takes on all the ball-handling responsibilities. Sorry, Reggie Jackson.
There was, however, one other notable development in that nightmarish first-round loss - Gregg Popovich seemed to lose all confidence in his starting small forward, and the team had no go-to backup. In his two seasons with the team, Richard Jefferson has earned the ire of Spurs fans everywhere. First, it was because he was paid too much, but that situation was mostly rectified when he restructured his contract last summer. The second problem is that he loses both motivation and confidence when things don't go his way, or if he is not being involved in the offense. Basically, he's a good shooter and slasher, but doesn't seem to have the intangibles that made Sean Elliott and Bruce Bowen such good fits with the team in the past. In the final game against Memphis, Jefferson logged 10 minutes, none of which came in the second half. After the series, neither Pop nor RJ made the slightest allusion to any injury which might have caused the benching, which leads us as fans to the conclusion that Pop didn't trust the only true small forward he had at his disposal in the most important game of the season.
That's where Singler comes in as the solid backup three the Spurs have lacked. He definitely lacks the athletic gifts of Elliott or Jefferson, but "intangibles" might as well be Singler's middle name. Even though his three-point shooting (an absolutely essential skill for a Spurs small forward) declined a bit in the 2010-11 NCAA season, he stuck to his game. His two ACC championships, one NCAA championship (which he was also named the Most Outstanding Player for), and his gold medal with the U.S. junior national team all go to show Singler's ability to perform in pressured situations. He has the utmost confidence in what he does, knows his limits, and he's smart. He has good size at 6'9", an uncanny understanding of positioning at both ends of the floor, is a very good rebounder for a SF, and he hustles. Simply put, this guy makes plays. A proven winner whose contributions can't be appreciated by looking at a box score? He has "Spurs" written all over him.
Follow this StoryStream to see our entire SB Nation mock draft play out over the next couple days. See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
With the No. 28 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the Chicago Bulls, as represented by Blog A Bull, pick Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins. Kevin Ferrigan, better known at Blog A Bull as fundamentallysound, explains the pick.
I first became intrigued with Jenkins because he put up crazy efficiency numbers just about anyway you could measure it. According to the always great Ken Pomeroy's statistical database, among players who used 28 percent of their team's possessions or more, Jenkins was tops in the country with a sparkling 123.5 ORtg. That sparked my interest and after that, it was to DraftExpress to examine what their always excellent staff had to say about him. The reviews were sparkling. Statistically, Jenkins looks great, posting a 31.0 PER. Additionally, his situational statistics (courtesy of Synergy Sports and DraftExpress) are pretty breathtaking. He can score in isolation or out of the catch and shoot. He's elite in both categories. Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated broke this down in great detail.
Jenkins also has a great NBA body. He's not terribly tall at 6'1.5" without shoes according to DX's combine measurements, but he's got a 6'7.5" wingspan which allows him to play much bigger than his size would suggest. He's also incredibly strong. All of this is not to say that Jenkins doesn't come without questions. He played in a small conference, so it's unclear to what extent his numbers were helped by that (though it's worth noting that the CAA did place three teams in the tournament and Jenkins' Hofstra squad won 21 games with Charles not having a whole lot of help). Against North Carolina, early in the season, he scored 24 points, had four assists and three steals.
The second red flag for Jenkins is his age. He's 22 and really didn't quite dominate at this level until this year. Generally speaking true NBA talent shines earlier than that.
But enough about what's wrong with Charles Jenkins. What's right with him is that he's an exceptional isolation player, shot creator and ball-handler. These are all things the Bulls need, desperately, as was made abundantly clear by the Eastern Conference Finals where the Bulls' lack of ball handlers and creators outside of Derrick Rose was glaring. This flaw allowed the Heat to totally bottle up the Bulls' offense in crutch time, particularly by placing LeBron on Rose. Charles Jenkins would help fix that.
I think Mr. Jenkins can be a solid addition to the Bulls' backcourt rotation and given his wingspan, strength and his ability to work to improve, I have full faith that he can defend the guard positions at an NBA level, particularly under Tom Thibodeau's expert tutelage.
Follow this StoryStream to see our entire SB Nation mock draft play out over the next couple days. See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
With the No. 27 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the New Jersey Nets, represented by SB Nation's NetsDaily, selects Marquette forward Jimmy Butler. NetsDaily regular Kid Chocolate explains the pick.
One of the Nets' biggest needs is a small forward, as well as someone who can penetrate and get to the rim.
With Anthony Morrow spacing the floor, and Deron Williams running the offense, Jimmy Butler is the perfect option for this team. A solid defender, hard worker, and impressive young man, Butler ranked third in the Big East in free throws attempted per game this year, as well as 2nd last year. The man knows how to get to the line, and the Nets have been missing someone who can attack the rim from the perimeter.
Travis Leslie also fit the bill, but Butler has maturity and readiness to play over Leslie, who is a little bit of a project. We also like Tyler Honeycutt's defensive potential, but we're choosing to go with the polished offensive player in order to help convince Deron Williams to stick around.
Follow this StoryStream to see our entire SB Nation mock draft play out over the next couple days. See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
With the No. 26 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the Dallas Mavericks, represented by SB Nation's blog champion Mavs Moneyball, select Duke point guard (no not that one) Nolan Smith. Moneyball's Tim (aka tcat75) explains the pick.
Believe it or not, the Mavericks do not view their 2011 NBA Championship as the end of their era. With Caron Butler considered likely to re-sign with the team after an injury that caused him to miss half the year, and hopefully solid production from exciting young player Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavericks think they might even be better than they were last year. With that said, the Mavericks will be looking for someone to contribute now.
The Mavericks have several positions which could use some attention, but point guard stands out. After bringing his talents to the NBA postseason, J.J. Barea might just have earned himself a new home, along with quite a bit of money, as he is an unrestricted free agent. If Roddy is truly a 2-guard, then the only backup to Jason Kidd is the raw Dominique Jones. Bringing in Nolan Smith brings in a college senior who is ready to get meaningful minutes. He will help alleviate the lack of scoring from the PG position, although he wouldn't feel the pressure to score as he did at Duke.
If the Mavericks do still view Beaubois as a PG, then senior Justin Harper would also be a valuable choice to bolster the forward position. However, if they finally admit Roddy B's future seems more and more likely to be at shooting guard, then Nolan Smith could immediately step into the backup point guard position, and perhaps take Jason Kidd's position in a couple of years.
With the No. 25 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the Boston Celtics, represented by SB Nation's CelticsBlog, pick Jeremy Tyler, most recently of Japan's second-tier league. Jeff Clark explains the pick.
There's no such thing as a sure thing this late in a weak draft, so why not swing for the fences with a big man that has top 10 talent? Will he contribute to a title contender right away? Well, under normal circumstances I'd say "doubtul," but we have exactly 2 bigs on the roster and injuries are pretty much a given with this team. So if he's on the roster, he'll probably play.
Of course he is still bloody T-bone raw on offense (the C's main weakness) and he has, um... limited historical NBA knowledge. But give him a steady diet of Rondo alley oops and a stack of Red on Roundball DVDs and he'll do just fine - even if we have to give Hondo and Jo Jo White nametags.
With the No. 24 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, Welcome To Loud City, picking for the Oklahoma City Thunder, picks Nikola Mirotic, a Montenegran forward. Zorgon from WTLC explains the selection.
At this point, the Thunder are pretty set in their rotation. They've got a couple of project big men sitting on their roster, and they're deep at PG with Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor, and Nate Robinson. However, they would welcome the presence of a scoring small forward that could provide some relief for Kevin Durant, be more dynamic than Daequan Cook, and help keep the Thunder from the terrible offensive droughts they experienced in last year's playoffs.
Kyle Singler would seem to be the most viable option in some eyes. But he doesn't bring anything defensively, and we all know what happens to dynamic college scorers with no defense (Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick ring a bell?). Chandler Parsons gives the same thing, except he's more of a playmaker and less dynamic of a scorer, which isn't really what the Thunder are looking for. With those two guys out, I look to Europe for viable options. Davis Bertrans of Latvia is a guy with a lot of potential, but he's failed to have an above average game while playing against the tougher Euroleague competition, and has only really succeeded on the domestic level. This leaves Nikola Mirotic. He's a starter on Real Madrid, who got to the Euroleague semifinals last year. On that team are NBA vets Sergio Rodriguez and Jorge Garbajosa, both of whom are worse statistically than Mirotic. Lastly, he's big enough to match up with both Small and Power Forwards defensively, going along with the Thunder's defensive mentality. The Thunder can afford to stash him away for a year or two, yet he's also ready enough to come to the NBA should he be needed. It's a win-win. Honestly, I don't know why this guy wasn't selected higher on the board.
Houston wants to come away from this draft with at least one big man, but beyond Nikola Vucevic -- who is off the board -- I don't see anyone worth taking over a nice point guard prospect like Morris. The 6'5 guard was versatile a playmaker at Michigan and gives the Rockets the depth to be able to look into moving Kyle Lowry or Goran Dragic.
By the way, in case it hasn't been made obvious enough, it doesn't matter who did what for Houston last season: each and every Rocket is reportedly on the trading block. Morris makes sense here, if only because it can be argued that he is the best player available. Remember: Houston took Aaron Brooks back when they were stocked with point guards.
Even though all the "power" forwards the Nuggets are hoping to draft at No. 22 (like Chris Singleton, Kenneth Faried and Tobias Harris) have been drafted before the Nuggets' slot, my esteemed colleagues at SB Nation somehow managed to miss on Markieff Morris, the lesser talented but bigger of the two Morris twins.
When drafting late in the first round (or early in the second round), I like power forwards who had a substantive impact for several years at a big time college program. Based on experience, these types of players are able to step into (at a minimum) a backup role immediately, which just so happens to be exactly what the Nuggets need if Kenyon Martin gravy-trains with the Dallas Mavericks as he's been threatening to do on Twitter.
Even if K-Mart were to re-sign, the Nuggets need to think about their power forward situation, something they should have done when they foolishly skipped drafting DeJuan Blair in favor of a draft-and-sell with Houston in 2009.
Without even having to look them up on Basketball-Reference.com, you know the names of the power forwards who came from big college programs, were drafted after the 20th pick and had immediate impacts on their respective teams: Blair, Jon Brockman, Darrell Arthur (another Jayhawk!), Carl Landry, Josh McRoberts, Paul Millsap, Leon Powe, Glen Davis, Jason Maxiell, David Lee, Brandon Bass and Ronny Turiaf. And that's just in the last six years!
Sure, we'd love to steal a Serge Ibaka, Tiago Splitter or Nicolas Batum here, but those guys are gambles and for every Ibaka, I can give you the names of 10 foreigners drafted after 20 that you've never heard of and will never hear of. Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri certainly knows foreign talent better than most, but if Morris is indeed on the board at 22, I don't see how the Nuggets could pass him up.
Motiejunas was once regarded as a high lottery talent, and nothing about his game has really changed, except that he's been on the draft scene for so long that reality caught up a bit with the hype.
His overall offensive package -- highlighted by his vision and length -- make him a tough cover in any league, including the NBA eventually. If he does slide this far, the Blazers, who have scouted Motiejunas extensively for years, can't help but pass on their desires to find a point guard or a grinding type backup forward to take a player who has no business being on the board at No. 21.
This pick would be sort of like the Victor Claver selection a few years ago except that people have heard of Motiejunas.
Follow this StoryStream to see our entire SB Nation mock draft play out. See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
I seriously doubt the Wolves end up keeping either of their first-round picks, but if they do hold onto them, look for them to take high character guys who will work their tails off. Harris did nothing but improve all season long and he is only 18. In a draft widely viewed to be weak, it is amazing to me that a young player with as much talent has Harris is allowed to fall into the 20s.
At No. 2, Hoopus selected Enes Kanter out of Turkey, passing up Arizona forward Derrick Williams.
After addressing their need for a perimeter shooter and scorer with the 9th pick (by taking Jordan Hamilton), the Bobcats now look to address their other primary need: a scoring and rebounding big man. At this point in the draft, Nikola Vucevic best fills those needs.
Standing 7 feet tall and weighing 260 pounds, Vucevic possesses the size to be a force in the post. These skills were frequently on display during this past season at USC, where he averaged 17.1 PPG and 10.3 RPG on 50.5 percent shooting. While Vucevic was able to establish himself in the post with an arsenal of competent moves, he was also a threat to stretch the floor, shooting a respectable 34.9 percent from behind the three-point line and becoming a consistent mid-range jump shooter.
Unlike many similar players in this draft, Vucevic'a versatile offensive game is not hindered by defensive liability, as Vucevic is generally an adequate defender. Vucevic may not be an exemplary defender, but he also is not a poor one. However, the team that drafts Vucevic will most likely not choose him due to his defense, but rather because of his multi-faceted offensive game. Though he may not succeed in the NBA to the level he did in college (in regards to scoring), Vucevic should be a reliable offensive big man in the future, a rotational player who can hit jump shots (especially from mid-range) and occasionally use his skill and length to score from the post. Because of his consistent combination of offensive skills, Nikola Vucevic should be a terrific choice for the Charlotte Bobcats with their 19th pick.
With the No. 18 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, the Washington Wizards, presented by Bullets Forever, take Washington State wing Klay Thompson. Mike Prada of Bullets Forever has the explanation.
The Wizards employ John Wall as their star player, which means that finding shooters should be a priority. Thompson is one of the best shooters in this draft, and is adept at spotting up. He has a really efficient all-around offensive game and is adept at getting his points without monopolizing the ball. This separates him from a lot of other similar offensive wings in this draft, who can all score, but who have less developed off-ball games. Thompson is also a fairly decent creator for others, even if he may not project as an elite slasher.
I suspect Thompson will ultimately be a backup that can swing between shooting guard and small forward depending on matchups. He's insurance in case Nick Young walks in free agency, but unless Young's asking price is ridiculous, I doubt that happens. Instead, I see him being a 20-24 minute backup that can finish some games when the Wizards need an offensive boost.
With the No. 17 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, Posting And Toasting, our New York Knicks blog, takes Kenneth Faried, a big man out of Morehead State. P&T's Seth Rosenthal explains the pick.
Based on what I've heard, I think the real Knicks would probably take Klay Thompson here, and that'd be fine by me. If I was in charge, though, I'd find it hard to pass on the one guy who has an elite skill (rebounding) that fits a major area of Knick need (rebounding).
I worry about that rebounding not translating from a small collegiate conference to professional competition, but then I look at Faried's hair, imagine him and Renaldo Balkman building a fort in the locker room and calling it "Club Dreads", and my worries evaporate. The Knicks need a garbage man, and Faried seems as good a candidate as any to fill that role.
With the No. 16 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, Liberty Ballers, our Philadelphia 76ers blog, selects Texas power forward Tristan Thompson. Liberty Ballers' Michael Levin explains the pick.
While Tristan Thompson isn't the polished, low-post scorer and defensive rebounder the Sixers need in the short term, he can develop into a possible cornerstone of the franchise with the right teaching. He'd fill the void left by Thaddeus Young (if he leaves) on the offensive glass, because Tristan was one of the nation's best at cleaning up after his teammates. With Elton Brand's contract on the downside of tradeable, he could slip into the starting lineup midseason or next year if Elton gets moved. While he's got the length, I don't think he and Brand would work well as a starting front court, so it's likely that Spencer Hawes would retain the center position for this season.
The hope is that the Sixers will package Andre Iguodala to move up to either the Timberwolves spot at No. 2 or the Cavs' No. 4 pick. Then they could look wing at 16 to replace him, with either Jordan Hamilton, Chris Singleton or Klay Thompson, depending on who's still around. While Markieff Morris, Kenneth Faried, and Nikola Vucevic represent safer options for the Sixers at 16, Tristan has the highest upside and the chance to gel with Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday to continue building the young core of this team.
With the 15th pick, the Indiana Pacers are faced with a group of "yeah, but..." guys at the power forward and guard positions they need to address. Whether it's size, athleticism, defensive deficiencies or offensive deficiencies there's a flaw in the total package of these players keeping them from the top of the draft board.
While I would like to address the power forward situation in the draft and Markieff Morris fits the profile of an experienced player Larry Bird prefers, it just didn't feel right, so I went with my gut to address the need for a player to help carry the scoring load with Marshon Brooks. Klay Thompson would've worked as well and recent reports that Thompson outplayed Brooks during their full workout gave me pause, but I love the airy swagger Brooks brings along with that sweet shooting stroke.
The 6'5" Brooks averaged 24.6 points last season at Providence with his ability to score in a variety of ways. He'd be a nice compliment to both Danny Granger and Paul George, boosting the fire power at the wing position. The Pacers desperately need a player to stare down big shots and not only be willing to take them but also expect to make them. As he showed in college, Brooks won't turn down shots and look for someone else to be the hero.
We're up to the No. 14 in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft. The Dream Shake, our Houston Rockets blog, uses the pick to select Jan Vesely, a Czech forward prospect. The Shake's Tom Martin explains the pick.
The Rockets enter the draft with three picks. They would prefer to take home at least one big body, but they won't be dismayed should they decide to use their first pick on a talented wing player. Despite Chase Budinger's improvement over the course of last season, Houston should be looking to add more talent to its small forward crop, most notably on the defensive end.
Enter Vesely. He's a tall and incredibly athletic wing player who can rotate between the three and the four depending on his future situation. Many see him as a young Andrei Kirilenko. Vesely may not be the defensive stalwart that Kirilenko was in his younger years, yet based on his physical tools alone, it's difficult to squash his potential to eventually become a game-changing defender. There is still plenty of work to be done to mold Vesely into a successful pro, but at No. 14, he is great value for Houston. They'll be satisfied should this scenario somehow play out.
The Phoenix Suns are not in the position to make a risky choice at No. 13. The team is aging, in transition, and has many holes to fill. This is why the Suns will take Marcus Morris at 13. Morris provides the Suns with three vital attributes of a draft pick for the franchise:
1. He is a fairly polished player.
2. He is a scorer.
3. He projects as an NBA power forward.
Further, Morris isn't a one dimensional player. He can take it to the rack, and he can also step out and hit a 15-footer. He's not yet the defender or rebounder the Suns desperately need down low, but he's got the tools, desire and athleticism to develop into "that guy" who makes all of us in the desert forget about Amar'e Stoudemire.
Jimmer. Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer, Jimmer. It's as if the Precogs had predicted this move years ago when Jimmer first picked up a basketball.
For this mock draft, Jimmer is the selection at 12. The Jazz were able to land Derrick Williams with the number three pick, thus allowing them to go with a point guard here. Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight are long gone at this point and the Jazz are in need of another guard; whether Jimmer would be used at the one or the two is to be decided.
Who knows how this marriage will work. The only way this pick works out is if Jimmer plays and Jimmer plays well. There would be a heap of pressure for him to perform in front of his loyal fans; that's something he's thrived on though. Can he do it at the NBA level? That's what everyone wants to know. If he doesn't play well, then what? Picking Jimmer would put pressure on the team and on the player. That might rock the relationship.
Kevin O'Connor has no qualms when it comes to making moves that agitate the fan base. So don't be surprised if the Jazz pass on Jimmer in this spot and instead take another player in this spot. There's a good chance that in the real draft he doesn't have to make that choice. Jimmer may be gone and prove the Precogs wrong.
We reconvene the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft at pick No. 11, where Nate Parham of Golden State Of Mind selects Chris Singleton, a wing out of Florida State. Here's Nate's explanation for the pick.
If indeed new Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson believes that he's going to turn a woeful defensive team into a unit with a defensive identity, then that has to begin by actually adding some defensive players to the roster. And regardless of whether they choose to keep or split up Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, they could definitely use a perimeter defender here.
Washington State guard Klay Thompson has been linked to the Warriors repeatedly and, after continuing to impress in workouts, could be considered the best player available. But although there's little question that he could become a solid contributor on an already strong defensive team, the Warriors are not that and perhaps the biggest doubt about him -- isolation defense -- also happens to be among the Warriors biggest defensive weaknesses.
With Bismack Biyombo off the board, Florida State forward Chris Singleton and Texas forward Tristan Thompson stand out here as players with potential to become at least above average, if not elite, defenders in the league. Singleton is the selection here because of his versatile on-ball defensive ability despite some major questions offensively. The bottom line is that if the Warriors have a choice between a scorer with question marks and a defender with question marks, the defender should probably get the edge.
The next stop in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft is the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the No. 10 pick. Dan Sinclair of SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop explains his selection of Colorado guard Alec Burks.
Bucks fans could be forgiven for lacking the same optimism they showed this time last summer. Instead of celebrating another trip to the playoffs and dreaming of what new piece would be added to the evolving puzzle, the Bucks are picking up the pieces (and body parts) following an injury-riddled campaign that was a step backwards from their surprising 2010 season. Despite again ranking as one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, the offense was downright atrocious, and Milwaukee just couldn't score effectively enough to win games.
In theory, Milwaukee is set at the point guard and center positions, but there isn't a player currently on the roster who would qualify as a "star." As such, the classic "best player available" approach would seem to make sense for the Bucks, but there are mitigating factors. Milwaukee is desperate for shot-makers, but are they willing to use a high pick on a potentially single-faceted shooter? Can they afford to draft a high-upside player whose skills overlap those currently prevalent on the team and might not be really useful for a year or two? Too often, especially this year, we hear about the lack of star power available in the draft, but the Bucks simply have to find an effective player. It can be done, and there is really nothing wrong, this year, with "just" finding a productive, capable rotation player.
In light of these questions, and our tentative answers, Alec Burks of Colorado makes a great deal of sense for the Bucks. Burks is a smooth, athletic guard with highly-regarded ball-handling skills, something that would fit well with coach Scott Skiles' propensity to use multiple ball-handler lineups. He excels at attacking the rim, finishing well and drawing fouls at a high rate, something Corey Maggette was intended but ultimately not allowed to do very often. It's unlikely Burks replicates Maggette in that department immediately, but thankfully he's also shown the ability to both score in volume while also keeping his teammates involved. While Burks' jumper isn't exactly consistent, he's shown excellent touch at the line and most scouts insist his form is very workable. And frankly, the Milwaukee offense could stand to shift away from jump-shooting a bit. In the short term it's unlikely Burks would wrest significant playing time away from John Salmons, who remained entrenched despite his struggles last season, but the two actually bear a significant resemblance, and Burks could benefit from playing behind the veteran early on.
Though Burks has been considered the favorite at #10 for weeks, it should also be noted that the Bucks appear increasingly open to a number of other options. The sharpshooting Klay Thompson and the quick-rising Marshon Brooks are also on the Bucks' radar, while the raw explosiveness of Jan Vesely, inside-out game of Marcus Morris, and interior presence of Tristan Thompson could also be tempting to John Hammond and company.
Follow this StoryStream to see our entire SB Nation mock draft play out over the next couple days. The No. 11 pick from Golden State Of Mind will be live Tuesday morning. See our 2011 NBA Draft hub for full coverage.
The SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft rolls on to pick No. 9, where Connor Huchton of SB Nation's Bobcats blog Rufus On Fire will make the pick for Charlotte. And that pick Texas small forward Jordan Hamilton. Connor's explanation follows.
With this pick, the Bobcats have several options. They have a glaring need for scoring from the wing position, as well as scoring and rebounding from a power forward or center. Some have speculated that they could take a scoring guard like Klay Thompson or Alec Burks, an athletic stalwart like Chris Singleton, or even the athletic defending and rebounding prospect Bismack Biyombo. However, these prospects are less likely to quickly improve the Bobcats in as many areas as Jordan Hamilton could.
Hamilton, a 6'8", 230 pound small forward out of the University of Texas, is best known for his ability to score (18.6 PPG during his recent sophomore season). He's a good shooter from the perimeter, something the Bobcats desperately lack. What often goes unnoticed by many when analyzing Hamilton is his keen sense of rebounding (8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes at Texas). If Hamilton can translate the offensive energy and skill set he showed while at Texas to the NBA, he could help solve a number of deficiencies in the Bobcats offense.
Of course, Hamilton's game is not without its own problems. His footwork and poise are often suspect on defense, and he often has questionable shot selection (though he improved in that facet over the last year). However, with a decreased offensive focus initially and further development, these problems could most likely be alleviated to some degree. Given that Hamilton would most likely be allowed to play decent minutes somewhat promptly with the Bobcats, his perimeter and rebounding strengths would be able to flourish. Because he provides two important abilities that the Bobcats often desperately need, Hamilton should be in heavy consideration for the Bobcats with their 9th pick.
Wait, Kemba Walker? An undersized combo guard for a team that's already trying to unload a scoring guard? Admittedly, he's not my first pick.
What the Pistons truly need is a defensive anchor in the paint who can focus on protecting the basket and snatching rebounds. Or perhaps a replacement for Tayshaun Prince, who's likely played his last game in Detroit. Or maybe a true point guard so the Pistons can end the Rodney Stuckey experiment.
But since Bismack Biyombo, Kawhi Leonard and Brandon Knight are off the board -- and guys like Jan Vesely and Tristan Thompson are either a project or a reach -- Walker is the value pick. He's safe. He's going to be productive from Day 1, even if he is currently redundant.
And that's OK, because after two and a half years of sitting on his hands, Joe Dumars finally has permission from ownership to resume doing his job. Walker's arrival should signal someone else's departure, whether it's Stuckey, Ben Gordon or Rip Hamilton. Once the depth chart is balanced, having a dynamic scorer on a rookie-scale contract makes sense -- especially a high-character gym rat with a track record of improvement and success.
Leonard isn't the sexy pick here, especially with Kemba Walker, Jimmer and Jan Vesely still on the board. I'm of the opinion that Kawhi's the best pick for the Kings here, though. Yes, it's true the Kings have been on the lookout for another point guard, but what they're really looking for at that position is another facilitator, and Walker and Jimmer are more scorers, both with question marks about their defense. At their other hole, small forward, Vesely could be an intriguing option, but he's much too raw in my opinion, and while he has elite athleticism and length, he still can't shoot, rebound or play defense all that well.
The Kings don't need another scorer, particularly with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins all demanding the ball at high rates. They also don't need another project. Kawhi is the best of both worlds; He can come in and make an impact defensively and on the boards from Day 1, and while he can score if needs be, he won't demand the ball on that end, or complain if he doesn't get enough touches. (*cough* Omri Casspi *cough*.)
Leonard does have some holes in his game, particularly shooting the basketball, but from interviews and pre-draft workout reports, it seems he's making a concerted effort to improve that part of his game. At just 19 years old, he still has plenty of room to grow.
We're up to No. 6 in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, and Mike Prada of our Washington Wizards blog Bullets Forever (and also, of course, of SBNation.com and SB Nation D.C.) takes Bismack Biyombo at No. 6.
Biyombo, a long power forward/center out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would be an interesting fit next to the Wizards' incumbent center JaVale McGee, reputed as a shotblocker and finisher, but in actuality a still-raw player whose defense is more highlight-reel than consistent. Biyombo was one of the leading shotblockers in the strong Spanish league last season despite relatively limited minutes; he figures to make a defensive impact from the weakside on Day 1, but is a complete question mark (or worse) on defense.
Four down, 26 to go in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft. Our friends at Raptors HQ, SB Nation's Toronto Raptors blog, have the choice for the No. 5 pick. Raptors HQ explains why Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight is the choice.
"With the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Brandon Knight, from Kentucky."
If those words are echoed by one David Stern come June 23, there are going to be lots of happy fans in Raptorland. Sure, there are those who prefer names like Kemba Walker or Enes Kanter, but Knight represents the best prospect on the board at this point, and a chance for the Raptors to get their point guard of the future.
Is Knight a true PG? Not at this point, as his turnover issues and weak left hand can attest, but neither were names like Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo when they entered the league. Knight isn't on the same level as the aforementioned, but he's got a chance to be a lot more special than Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless, the Raptors' current options. Paired with DeMar DeRozan in the back-court, and guys like Ed Davis up front, Toronto's rebuild effort would have some solid foundation pieces to work with.
We're back to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 4 pick in our SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, and Fear The Sword's Conrad Kaczmarek is up. After taking Kyrie Irving at No. 1, the Cavs go big at No. 4, taking Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. Here's Conrad with the explanation.
With the second of the Cavaliers' two lottery picks, there are several likely candidates. The two prospects that have garnered the most interest from the Cavs are Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas.
If both are on the board when Cleveland is picking at the four spot on draft night, they may have a difficult decision to make. In this case, however, the decision appears to be made for them. With Kanter having already been drafted, the Cavs will happily select another international center in Valanciunas.
Valanciunas does not fit the traditional European big man stereotype. He shows exceptional energy on both ends of the court and looks to finish strong at the rim. While Kanter provides a more polished offensive game, Cleveland scouts have raved about Valanciunas' upside as an NBA center as well. While the Cavs have bigger needs at the SG and SF positions, combining an active big man with point guard, Kyrie Irving, would be a solid foundation for their rebuilding efforts.
With the No. 3 pick in the SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft, Basketball John from our Utah Jazz blog SLC Dunk refused to look a gift horse in the mouth and took Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Here's his explanation.
Having Derrick Williams or Kyrie Irving fall to the Jazz somehow is what most Jazz fans are hoping for. My biggest fear for the Jazz this draft was winning the lottery and landing the third pick in a two-man draft. That's exactly what happened. While players like Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight and others will have solid NBA careers, Williams and Irving appear to be the two that have the best chance to become All-stars or at least All-star caliber players. That's something that the Jazz need as they rebuild.
The only issue with drafting Williams is that the Jazz already have a glut of players at the four and five positions. That's a problem that Kevin O'Connor would like to have though. It's possible that Williams could play some at the three (as he's been insisting). What it would likely lead to though the trade of one of the Jazz big men for a wing.
I don't think Williams falls to the Jazz come Thursday but with David Kahn picking second, you never know.
After our Cleveland Cavaliers blog Fear The Sword took Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick, Canis Hoopus, SB Nation's Minnesota Timberwolves is on the clock. Stop-n-Pop took Enes Kanter, a Turkish center. Here's the explanation from Stop-n-Pop:
While I have a strong suspicion that David Kahn would like to trade the No. 2 pick for a proven veteran, I just do not think that this scenario will come to pass. Andre Iguodala and Monta Ellis aren't walking through that door.
The Wolves can't draft Derrick Williams. They can't have a roster where their five best players are all power forwards (Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, Williams and Anthony Tolliver). This leaves them having to choose between point guards like Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker and bigs like Kanter and Bismack Biyombo. As much as I'd like to see the Wolves team up the oversized man panther (manther?) Biyombo with Ricky Rubio, I think Kahn takes the "safest" top center in the draft and pairs him with Love.
Our SB Nation 2011 NBA Mock Draft asks the wonderful team bloggers of our network to make choices on behalf of their favorite teams and explain themselves. We start with Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear The Sword, our Cleveland Cavaliers blog. He elected to -- surprise! -- take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving No. 1 overall. Here's Conrad.
In a draft that lacks a clear, potential superstar, the Cavaliers will take the guy who appears to be the safest bet. Despite a relatively small sample-size from college, Irving was certainly impressive when he did play. It makes sense for the Cavaliers to choose Irving and then take more of a risk with the No. 4 overall selection.
Too many questions surround the other possibilities for Cleveland at the top of the draft. Is Derrick Williams a small forward or a power forward? Has anyone actually seen Enes Kanter play? There is no doubt that Irving has the body and skills to play point guard in the NBA and has the potential to offer stability at a critical position as the Cavs start to rebuild. Furthermore, the selection of Irving allows GM Chris Grant to actively shop Ramon Sessions for more assets. When you take all of these factors into consideration, the pick begins to look like a no-brainer; Kyrie Irving is headed to Cleveland.
The 2011 NBA Draft will be held on June 23. In the lead-up, the team bloggers of SB Nation are holding a mock draft, where each blog editor makes the choice for their team and explains why. Will the actual draft go this way? Not likely. But if it did, our bloggers would be happy!
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